Matthew Backhouse

Matthew Backhouse is an APNZ news reporter based in Wellington.

Charged family members excused from hearing for party

Defence lawyer Barbara Hunt said the party was culturally significant. Photo / File
Defence lawyer Barbara Hunt said the party was culturally significant. Photo / File

Three family members arrested in a migrant labour exploitation investigation have been excused from their next hearing so they can attend a 60th birthday party in China.

The trio were among five people charged by Immigration NZ last week who appeared in Wellington District Court this morning.

A Wellington husband, wife and sister, who all work for a Wellington immigration company, were granted interim name suppression until next month when they appeared before Judge Mike Behrens QC this morning.

They face a number of charges including supplying false information, aiding a breach of an immigration permit and obstructing justice.

Defence lawyer Barbara Hunt asked that all three be excused from their next hearing on January 9 because they were due to travel to China for a family member's 60th birthday party.

Ms Hunt said the party was culturally significant.

She asked for interim name suppression on the grounds they would suffer extreme hardship, including the identification of their company.

"They risk the loss of the company," she said.

Immigration NZ lawyer Saar Cohen-Ronen asked for suppression to be declined, saying they had known they were under investigation for some time.

Judge Behrens granted them interim name suppression until next month.

He remanded them on bail and excused them from attending their next hearing.

They must advise Immigration NZ of their intention to travel and their itinerary before leaving the country.

Three others arrested in the same investigation were also granted interim name suppression and bailed until their hearings next month.

Immigration NZ has investigated 33 employers between last October and September this year, including 10 which are still under investigation.

- APNZ

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